Liatris is a genus encompassing many species and cultivars of blazing stars. These extremely showy plants are a welcome addition to the landscape. Their long-blooming flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. If you want to create a pollinator-friendly landscape, any variety of Liatris and its companion plants are the perfect flowers for the job.
Blazing stars are easy to grow and low-maintenance. They thrive with 8+ hours of full sun and grow best in average-quality, dry to medium-moisture well-drained soil.
When selecting companion plants, look for other species that complement each other and share common growing conditions. The plants in this list will all grow well in the same environments favored by blazing stars.
If you’re ready for a dazzling floral show, read on to learn more about an array of colorful companion plants for your blazing star. Even if you don’t yet have a blazing star, these plants are ideal for growing in wildlife-friendly gardens and prairie naturescapes.
With its attractive white trumpet-shaped flowers, beardtongue is a great choice for pollinator-friendly gardens.
This plant is sometimes called foxglove (not to be confused with true foxgloves of the Digitalis genus). It blooms in the spring with loose spikes of trumpet-shaped white flowers. The flowers are very attractive to bees, and this plant would be an excellent choice for a pollinator-friendly garden.
As a companion for a blazing star, the white beardtongue flowers would be a nice compliment to the purple of the blazing star. Beardtongue will likely finish blooming before the Liatris, so they won’t completely overlap.
Beardtongue is native to the eastern and southeastern United States, growing in average-quality, well-drained soil. Neither Liatris nor beardtongue tolerates wet, saturated soil conditions. Beardtongue is easily grown from seed or propagated from the division of mature clusters. You may also consider the pineleaf beardtongue.
Beebalm attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies with its scarlet red flowers. It is also resistant to deer and rabbits.
Beebalm, or scarlet bee balm, is a perennial wildflower native to the eastern United States. This plant produces vibrant scarlet red flowers each summer. Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is a similar plant with pale purple flowers. The tubular flowers grow in rounded clusters that hummingbirds find irresistible. Bees and butterflies are also attracted to the flowers.
Beebalm is an easily-grown member of the mint family and has fragrant leaves. Deer and rabbits generally avoid this plant. Beebalm grows best under full sunlight with medium-moisture, well-drained soil.
This plant will naturalize easily and spread by self-seeding and rhizomes. Beebalm is prone to powdery mildew, so every few years, divide larger clusters to maintain good air circulation through the dense foliage.
Black-eyed Susan thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, readily self-seeding to ensure a continuous display of beautiful flowers.
There are a few different species and commercially available cultivars of black-eyed Susan. Any variety of black-eyed Susan can be a companion for blazing star plants. Black-eyed Susan is generally considered a short-lived perennial or biennial wildflower. They are easily grown from seed and will readily self-seed in the garden, so you will never be without the next generation of these beautiful flowers.
Black-eyed Susan flowers come in a wide assortment of yellow, bronze, orange, and red. R. hirta, for example, has simple, bright yellow flowers with prominent dark centers.
R. hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’ is a cultivar with deep red flowers, and R. maxima is a species native to the southeastern United States with large yellow petals and an elongated central disk. Black-eyed Susan does best in direct sunlight with dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil.
This ornamental grass is prized for its decorative foliage and can be planted as a companion to blazing star.
Blue fescue is a small ornamental grass that forms dense clumps of thin blue-green blades. It blooms in early summer, but the flowers are not especially showy. Blue fescue is primarily grown for its decorative foliage. Plant several clumps together for a very attractive display.
As a companion plant for blazing stars, fescue can be located in the foreground with the taller Liatris in the background.
The fescue is semi-evergreen, staying green throughout the winter in warmer climates. This plant may not perform well in the intense summer heat. Blue fescue is somewhat short-lived but can be divided to keep clumps fresh and vibrant.
This milkweed is a must-have for butterfly gardens and serves as a host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars.
Butterfly milkweed is a “must” for every butterfly garden. Many different milkweed species exist, but A. tuberosa is a very garden-friendly species native to the eastern and southeastern United States. Butterfly milkweed stays relatively small, typically reaching only about 2 to 2.5 feet tall. It is very easy to grow from seed, but be patient, as it may take 2 to 3 years from seedling to the first flower.
Butterfly milkweed can bloom anywhere from late spring through mid-summer. Plants produce dense flattened clusters of bright yellow-orange flowers. Butterflies, bees, and other pollinators love the flowers.
Milkweeds are the primary host plants for the monarch butterfly caterpillar, so if you want to attract monarchs and other butterflies to your yard, planting a seed blend, including milkweed, is a great way to do that!
The common bluestar forms a large rounded clump growing 3 feet in height and width.
Common bluestar is native to the central United States, growing in meadows and open woodlands. It grows best in direct sun but also tolerates partial shade. Grow it in average-quality, medium-moisture, well-drained soil.
As a companion plant for blazing star, common bluestar would likely bloom earlier in the season, immediately followed by blazing star. Grow these two plants as neighbors in your star-themed garden!
Common bluestar produces loose, rounded clusters of pale blue, star-shaped flowers. The plant’s foliage forms a large, rounded clump reaching 3 feet high and about 3 feet wide.
At peak bloom, plants will put on a very attractive floral display, producing many flower clusters across the entire plant spread. Plant foliage turns yellow in the fall, contributing a bit of color to the autumn landscape.
Coneflowers have long-lasting, showy flowers that attract butterflies and pollinators.
There are several species of Echinacea and a great number of Echinacea hybrids, most originating from the native species E. purpurea. Coneflowers make a good companion plant for blazing star because they all thrive in similar conditions. Give these plants full sun and well-drained soil with dry to medium moisture.
Coneflowers are often pink or purple, but there are varying shades of these colors, plus white flowers. They are long-blooming and produce flowers throughout the summer months. The flowers are large and very showy, attracting many butterflies and pollinators.
In the fall, the mature seedheads attract hungry birds, especially goldfinches. Coneflowers are not generally bothered by deer, but rabbits often nibble on younger plants.
With its cheerful yellow flowers and attractive foliage, coreopsis can spread through self-seeding and rhizomes.
There are many species of coreopsis, both annuals and perennials, and any would make a nice addition to the perennial garden when planted alongside blazing star. Most coreopsis have cheerful single yellow flowers, dramatically complimenting the purple spikes of Liatris.
Coreopsis plants tend to bloom later in the season, from mid to late summer into early fall. Even without flowers, coreopsis has attractive foliage, some thin and fern-like, others deeply lobed, and some with simple oblong leaves.
Coreopsis does best in full sun with dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil. Insect pollinators and beneficial predatory insects visit the flowers.
Rabbits sometimes eat the leaves. Coreopsis grows well from seed; some varieties can spread rapidly via both self-seeding and rhizomes. Deadheading flowers can help prevent re-seeding.
False Blue Indigo
Baptisia australis boasts attractive foliage and bold spikes of purple flowers that attract butterflies and bees in mid to late spring.
False blue indigo is a beautiful shrublike perennial wildflower. It is native to the prairies and meadows of the eastern United States. This plant prefers full sun with dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil.
False blue indigo can be started from seed but takes a while to reach flowering maturity. Mature plants develop a long taproot, making them quite drought tolerant but difficult to transplant, so make sure you plant your indigo in a location where it can grow for many years.
A mature false blue indigo plant resembles a small, rounded shrub. This plant has attractive foliage throughout the growing season.
Flowers bloom in mid to late spring and attract butterflies and bees. The tall, bold spikes of pea-like purple flowers are stunning, making this plant a centerpiece of the spring landscape. After flowering, ornamental brown seedpods form, lasting through the summer.
Great Blue Lobelia
Great blue lobelia thrives in direct sunlight but can also tolerate light shade.
The large and prominent spikes of pale purple-blue flowers of the great blue lobelia would be a standout feature of a summer garden that includes this plant.
Planted alongside the spring-blooming blazing star, this plant comes into flowering just as the blazing star is finishing. This helps create continuity in the garden, attracting hummingbirds and pollinators throughout the season.
Great blue lobelia grows best in full sun but tolerates light shade, especially in warmer climates. Grow it in moist soil with space to form large clumps.
If you are growing lobelia with blazing star, select a dryer location for your blazing star and a wetter location for the lobelia. Because these two plants have different water needs, they probably shouldn’t be grown as immediate neighbors. Still, they can easily complement each other in a landscape with some variation in soil moisture.
Lavender hyssop is a great companion plant for blazing star in a pollinator-friendly landscape.
Also known as anise hyssop, lavender hyssop is an attractive member of the mint family. It has fragrant leaves and is not bothered by deer.
The flowers have a long blooming period, lasting throughout the summer months. Masses of pale purple flowers develop on small spikes and are very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.
Grow lavender hyssop in full sun or light shade. Soil should be dry to medium moisture and well drained. Growing alongside blazing star, this plant makes a solid companion.
The fragrant leaves help deter browning mammals, and the flowers will begin blooming just as the blazing star flowers are starting to fade away. Both attract pollinators and would be welcome in any pollinator-friendly landscape.
New England Aster
When growing New England aster alongside blazing star, ensure ample space for each plant to grow.
The first thing you should know about New England aster is that it can grow large. This bushy perennial grows both tall and wide, spreading freely by ground-level rhizomes.
The second thing you should know about New England aster is that it is a spectacularly beautiful plant. From late summer through fall, New England aster bursts into bloom, becoming almost entirely covered with bright pinkish or purplish flowers and attracting a multitude of late-season pollinators.
If you are growing New England aster with blazing star, give each plant plenty of space to grow. Asters will spread quite rapidly, and you don’t want it to shade your Liatris. Both grow well in full sun and average-quality, well-drained soil. This aster is not bothered by deer or rabbits and makes a great cut flower for fall flower arrangements.
Ornamental onion plants emit a distinct onion scent that can be unappetizing to rabbits and deer.
If you’ve always thought that onions were just for eating, you may be surprised to learn that many ornamental varieties of onion plants exist.
They typically have thickened, long, tubular, or hollow leaves that smell oniony. Rabbits and deer don’t like onion smells and won’t usually eat them. The flowers are beautiful, spherical, and usually bedecked in shades of purple. They bloom in the spring or early summer and attract pollinators.
Grow any allium in full sun. These plants must have well-drained soil because the bulbs can easily rot in wet environments. While you can grow onion plants from seed, they are most easily grown directly from a mature bulb which can be purchased or divided from existing colonies. If plants grow tall and flowering stalks flop over, they can be staked or caged to help them stay upright.
Purple Poppy Mallow
The purple poppy mallow would be a fantastic addition to a rock garden.
Purple poppy mallow is an easy-to-grow perennial native to the central United States. This plant thrives in full sun and would be a beautiful companion for blazing stars and other taller flowering perennials. Grow it in dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil. Purple poppy mallow is low maintenance and will readily self-seed in ideal conditions.
Purple poppy mallow blooms in late spring, a similar time as Liatris flowers. These low-growing plants can form beautiful masses as they spread. Grow them along borders where they can sprawl and drape over the edges. This plant would look great in a rock garden or any perennial wildflower garden.
Pussytoes, with its dense vegetation, is an excellent ground cover.
Also called field pussytoes or prairie everlasting, these tiny flowers are slightly different from your average showy wildflower. This plant is native to much of eastern and central North America and is a host plant for the American Painted Lady butterfly caterpillar.
Plants grow best in full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. Give pussytoes dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil.
Pussytoes form a dense mat of vegetation, making a great ground cover. The basal rosettes are comprised of fussy leaves that look pale silvery green. In early to mid-spring, taller flower stalks emerge, topped with fuzzy white flower clusters that attract butterflies and early-season pollinators. Plants are most easily propagated by dividing larger colonies.
This unique xeriscape plant makes a good companion for Liatris in similar growing conditions.
Rattlesnake master is a unique and rather unusual plant. The leaves are long and narrow, edged with sharp spines, and form an upright, silvery-green basal rosette. In late spring through mid-summer, tall flowering stalks appear from the centers of mature rosettes.
The flowers are spherical and pale greenish-white, looking more like a spiky orb than a traditional flower. They are showy in their own odd way and surprisingly attractive to various pollinators.
Rattlesnake master would be a good companion for Liatris because they look very different from each other yet grow in similar conditions. Be sure to give each plant plenty of room to grow as they will both naturalize and, over time, will spread into larger and larger clusters.
Rattlesnake master can be grown from seed or diving smaller offsets. Mature plants are difficult to transplant because they develop a long taproot, making them highly drought tolerant.
This wildflower thrives in dry sandy soils and is well-suited for containers or hanging baskets.
Rose verbena is a low-growing perennial wildflower that makes a good ground cover and nicely compliments taller plants growing nearby. Rose verbena has deeply cut geranium-like leaves and slightly fuzzy leaves and stems. Flowers bloom throughout the summer and attract butterflies. The flowers form clusters of pinkish-purple blossoms that are very showy and long-lasting.
Rose verbena would look wonderful in a rock garden or along any perennial border. Because of its small size, it can also be grown in containers or hanging baskets. Give it a location with full sun and low to medium-moisture well-drained soil. This plant is native to the southeastern United States in drier sandy soils. Grow it from seed or stem divisions.
A native wildflower, Stokes aster produces bluish-purple flowers that bloom from late spring to early or mid-summer.
Stokes aster is native to the southeastern United States but is cold hardy north to zone 5. This is a very showy perennial and a welcome addition to a native plant garden or any perennial landscape.
Plant it in full sun with medium-moisture, well-drained soil. Deer and rabbits don’t typically bother this plant, although they may nibble a bit.
Stokes aster blooms from late spring into early or mid-summer. The flowers are bluish-purple and very showy. You can try to encourage a longer blooming period by deadheading spent flowers. Stokes aster is a slightly shorter plant that would look very nice growing alongside the taller blazing star for some spectacular variety of purple flowers.
Yarrow rapidly spreads through rhizomes and can be divided when necessary to control cluster size.
There are many colorful cultivars of yarrow, and ‘Pomegranate’ stands out with its dark burgundy-red color. Yarrow starts blooming as blazing star is winding down, so there will probably be some overlap in blooming times, making a smooth transition from one beautiful garden flower to another. Like Liatris, yarrows are also attractive to butterflies and other pollinators.
Yarrow thrives in full sun with dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil. Yarrows grow vigorously and make a great ground cover, blanketing an area with their frilly, delicate, fern-like leaves.
Yarrows are not bothered by deer or rabbits and are also tolerant of drought and poor soil quality. They quickly spread by rhizomes and can be divided, as needed, for propagation and to maintain the desired cluster size.
Blazing stars are beautiful perennial plants that are suitable for many garden situations. If you already have a variety of Liatris, are thinking of adding one to your garden, or are just looking for some ideas, almost any plant in this list would fill a similar niche.
As you add new plants to your landscape, remember how well they will grow in your local environmental conditions and your available space. After that, have fun planning your garden’s variety of colors, sizes, and blooming times. Don’t forget to include a few pollinator plants to liven up your yard with colorful butterflies and hummingbirds!